The US Navy has deployed its first ever combat laser. The futuristic weapon has boosted the arsenal of the Fifth Fleet’s command vessel in the Persian Gulf. The laser is said to be effective against numerous small targets, such as Iran’s gunboats.
A 30-kilowatt-class Laser Weapon System has been equipped on the USS Ponce amphibious transport ship since late August, Navy officials told Bloomberg. Continue reading »
Boeing is building a laser cannon for the U.S. Army, and the new weapon has now proved it will be as capable at sea as on land. The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD)—basically a high-energy laser mounted on top of a big truck—was successfully used to blast some UAV drones and 60mm mortars out of the Florida sky earlier this year, Boeing announced Thursday. Continue reading »
The European Union will spend about 700 million euros ($900 million) to build the world’s most powerful lasers, technology that could destroy nuclear waste and provide new cancer treatments.
The Extreme Light Infrastructure project has obtained funding for two lasers to be built in the Czech Republic and Romania, Shirin Wheeler, spokeswoman for the European Commission on regional policy, said in a phone interview. A third research center will be in Hungary.
The lasers are 10 times more powerful than any yet built and will be strong enough to create subatomic particles in a vacuum, similar to conditions that may have followed the start of the universe. Eventually, the power of the light beams could be used to deteriorate the radioactivity of nuclear waste in just a few seconds and target cancerous tumors, the projects’s Romanian coordinator Nicolae-Victor Zamfir said in an interview. Continue reading »
Never mind looming defense cuts or residual technical challenges. The Navy’s chief futurist is pushing up the anticipated date for when sailors can expect to use laser weapons on the decks of their ships, and raising expectations for robotic submarines.
“On directed energy” — the term for the Navy’s laser cannons, “I’d say two years,” Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the chief of the Office of Naval Research, told Danger Room in a Monday interview. The previous estimate, which came from Klunder’s laser technicians earlier this year, was that it will take four years at the earliest for a laser gun to come aboard.
“We’re well past physics,” Klunder said, echoing a mantra for the Office of Naval Research’s laser specialists. Now, the questions surrounding a weapon once thought to be purely science fiction sound almost pedestrian. “We’re just going through the integration efforts,” Klunder continued. “Hopefully, that tells you we’re well mature, and we’re ready to put these on naval ships.”
How many people are on food stamps in the US and can’t feed themselves anymore?
What could be more important than a new stealth bomber???
The Air Force’s new stealth bomber might do more than just drop bombs, top generals said in recent days. The so-called “Long-Range Strike” plane — likely to be designated B-3 — could also carry bunker-busting, rocket-boosted munitions, high-powered lasers for self-defense and datalinks, and consoles for controlling radar-evading drones.
These add-ons, described by Air Force generals Philip Breedlove, William Fraser and David Scott, are meant to make the new bomber more lethal and harder to shoot down, even in the face of rapidly-modernizing air defenses such as China’s. “The purpose of this aircraft is to survive in an Anti-Access Area Denial environment,”Scott said, using the latest Pentagon term for defended airspace.
To that end, the bomber’s lasers might zap incoming missiles and fighters; the drones could fly ahead to scout and disable air-defense radars; the bunker-busters should ensure the bomber can actually destroy the enemy’s facilities once it breaks through the defenses.
With just $3.7 billion budgeted over the next five years to develop the bomber, lasers, bunker-busters, and drone-controls might seem unaffordable. And risky, considering the Air Force has said it must stick with “proven” technologies to keep the new bomber on-budget.
Several months ago I hosted a GitHub meetup in Boston to which tons of local geeks attended and drank free beer. During that meeting, I talked to a local graduate student in biophysics at Harvard named Andrew Leifer who told me that he loved GitHub and was in fact using it to collaborate on a program that accomplished mind control. with lasers. on worms.
Well, it turns out that I had not in fact been drinking too much and the project is real. Andrew’s research is called CoLBeRT: Controlling Locomotion and Behavior in Real-Time and works by running real-time analysis on video of a 1mm long specially bred light-sensitive C. elegans worm. The CoLBeRT system tracks the worm as it moves and shines laser light on specific neurons as the worm is moving to stimulate or inhibit those neurons.
The system can make the worm paralyzed, lay eggs, back up, speed up or sense touch in different areas of its body, all by directing laser light into specific neurons. That’s right, I said lay eggs. Check out this kick-ass laser:
If you aimed that at me, I’d probably lay eggs too.
Lasers cannons could be mounted on ships and boats to help fight off pirates attempting to board the vessels.
British engineers are developing a new type of defence system that uses lasers to incapacitate pirates by dazzling them
British engineers are developing a new type of defence system that uses lasers to incapacitate pirates by dazzling them as they approach a ship.
The non-lethal weapon, which has been developed by defence company BAE Systems, is effective against moving targets more than a mile away.
The company has started developing the laser in response to the growing threat from pirates to commercial vessels, particularly off the coast of Somalia where there have been several high profile hijackings.
Breakthrough: The machine used to create the tractor beam which brought the art of molecular transportation closer
Scientists have invented a tractor beam which is able to move large objects longer distances than ever before by using a laser light.
A team of researchers at the Australian National University in Canberra have brought the art of molecular transportation, made famous by the catchphrase ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ from the TV series Star Trek, a fraction closer.
Using what they call tractor beams – rays of energy that can move objects – they have managed to move tiny particles up to 59 inches from one place to another.
While physicists have been able to manipulate tiny particles over minuscule distances by using lasers for years, Andrei Rhode, one of the Canberra researchers, says his team’s technique can move objects one hundred times that size over a distance of almost five feet.
The method involves shining a hollow laser beam around tiny glass particles which heats up the air around them.
Laser beams have been used for the first time in naval warfare to shoot down aircraft, it can be disclosed.
The weapon, mounted on a warship’s missile, shot down four unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in secret testing carried out off the California coast, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.
In a joint enterprise between US Navy and Raytheon Missile Systems the technology has now got to the stage where lasers will be deployed on warships as part of their short-range defence.
For the first time a ‘solid state’ 32 mega watt laser beam of directed energy has been fired from a warship to a distance of more than two miles burning into a drone travelling at about 300mph.
The laser is mounted on a Phalanx close in weapons system that has a radar detection system. The targeting system was used in Iraq, to train fire from a Gatling onto rockets and mortars raining down on British bases.
Raytheon developed the system after buying six off-the-shelf commercial lasers from the car industry and joining them to make a single, powerful beam guided by the Phalanx’s radars. Unlike other tests which have been conducted on aircraft it uses a solid state laser rather than a chemical generated beam.
Mike Booen, vice president of Directed Energy Weapons at Raytheon, said the tests off San Nicolas Island were “a great day for the laser”.
“This is more real than Star Wars,” he said, speaking at the Farnborough Air Show. “Our lasers destroyed the UAVs lighting them on fire.
“This is the first successful shoot down over water. We are now on the path to deliver the first battlefield lasers integrated into real weapons systems. Continue reading »
In a recent series of tests at the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, Calif., a trailer-mounted laser was able to knock five unmanned aircraft out of the sky.
The demo, sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory, was a test of the Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated eXperiments (MATRIX), an experimental system developed by Boeing Directed Energy Systems. According to a company news release, the test showed the ability to take down a hostile unmanned aircraft with a “relatively low laser power” weapon. According to AFRL, MATRIX uses a two and a half kilowatt-class high energy laser.
While ballistic missile defense may get all of the press, some homeland-security experts worry about a more low-tech threat: drone technology. Bill Baker, chief scientist of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate, said in a statement that the shootdowns “validate the use of directed energy to negate potential hostile threats against the homeland.”
It’s not clear, exactly, how the lasers shot down the drones: Whether they disrupted the aircraft controls, or burned a big hole in them. (An AFRL news release said the drones were “acquired, tracked and negated at significant ranges” but offered few additional details.)
The latest version of the Department of Defence’s Thermal Laser System (Image: US Department of Defence)
The Pentagon’s efforts to develop a beam weapon that can deter an adversary by causing a burning sensation on their skin has taken a step forward with the development of a small, potentially hand-held, version. The weapon, which is claimed to cause no permanent harm, could also end up being used by police to control civilians.
(Image: Saul Loeb/Getty)
The idea of the weapon is to “create a heating sensation that repels individual adversaries”, according to the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) in Quantico, Virginia, which develops less-lethal weapons for the US military and coastguard.
Tests with a rifle-mounted infrared laser, carried out at a US air force lab near Dayton, Ohio, have determined a combination of laser pulse power and wavelength that causes an alarming, hot sensation on the skin, but which stops short of causing a burn, says JNLWD project engineer Wesley Burgei.
“We have established the minimum irradiance to cause a sensation and have characterised where thermal injury begins,” he says. “But the exact operating irradiance which balances a useful military effect with a conservative margin of safety has not been nailed down yet.”
That’s something that will have to be done before the weapon is deployed, as too powerful a laser beam could permanently blind someone if fired at their eyes. Weapons that do this are banned under the UN Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons.
Huge news for real-life ray guns: Electric lasers have hit battlefield strength for the first time — paving the way for energy weapons to go to war.
In recent test-blasts, Pentagon-researchers at Northrop Grumman managed to get its 105 kilowatts of power out of their laser — past the “100kW threshold [that] has been viewed traditionally as a proof of principle for ‘weapons grade’ power levels for high-energy lasers,” Northrop’s vice president of directed energy systems, Dan Wildt, said in a statement.
That much power won’t get you a Star Wars-style blaster. But it should be more than enough to zap the mortars and rockets that insurgents have used to pound American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.